The Sad Finale For Firetide (Unicam Acquires)

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 19, 2014

It was inevitable.

After burning through ~$50 million over the past decade, the former poster boy for wireless video surveillance, Firetide, has been acquired by a salvage specialist.

In this note, we examine what happened to Firetide, what the acquirer does and what this means for wireless video surveillance.

Unicom Global

Unicom Global, a peculiar company, acquired Firetide for an undisclosed amount of cash (though we doubt it was more than a 1/10th of what Firetide raised).

This Unicom is a privately held conglomerate and should not be confused with the Chinese multi-billion telecom giant.

They buy up lots of companies, frequently distressed and typically within IT. For example, after the US federal government suspended integrator GTSI from selling to them, Unicom bought them and made it their government division. Another deal example is US Robotics, the once powerful, but long since faded, dial up modem manufacturer.

Unicom offers little public information on their business practices or revenue but former employees explained the aftermath of acquisitions thusly:

"Shortly after being acquired our company IET Solutions saw dramatic changes forced upon us by the Unicom Management team. In an effort to improve margins we stopped developing our product, the QA organization was let go, and even the product/customer support group was terminated. The office in the US was reduced to 3 staff members."

and "Stop trying to grow by acquisition and take care of your clients. Buying distressed firms (USRobotics, GTSI, etc.) just makes things worse. The founder-president-CEO needs to stop thinking he is the smartest man in the universe, and actually listen to people who work for him."

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The upside is that the company may be good at digesting these distressed companies and making smaller scale profitable business units out of them. Unicom can and will likely cross sell Firetide to other Unicom units (such as the former GTI) while slashing Firetide's cost structure to maximize profitability.

The downside is that any dream of expansion, or even broad use of Firetide, seems unlikely.

Why Did This Happen?

No one has ever made mesh mainstream for video surveillance. The main causes were (1) too complicated to make work by non-experts, (2) too costly for products (10x+ more than PTP like Ubiquiti) and (3) too much of a niche for surveillance (only the biggest 10% or 20% really needed mesh. This is reflected in our newest 2014 wireless video surveillance favorites.

Firetide had already been facing that reality for years as the good times of raising big money had long past (the last big raise was back in 2009). Indeed, even the new CEO (from Cisco) in 2013, was evidently content or constrained to stay their more modest course.

And now they are a division of cleanup conglomerate.

 

7 reports cite this report:

Micropower Fails on May 02, 2016
Wireless video surveillance is a tough business. Micropower sought to deliver a wireless, turn-key, professional video solution. The most famous...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2016 on Mar 07, 2016
Following up on our 2014 survey for Integrator's Favorite Wireless Products, here are the new results. The top spot may not surprise you, but the...
The Next Failure in Wireless Video Surveillance: $18 Million Funding on Aug 21, 2015
Wireless video surveillance is one of the most difficult niches in the industry. Tens of millions have been wasted trying to build a wireless...
Siklu Wireless Video Surveillance Examined on May 07, 2015
Wireless video surveillance has not been an easy market over the past few years. Ubiquiti drained money out of the market by making $200 wireless...
Major Moves - Security Manufacturers 2014 / 2015 on Dec 08, 2014
This guide summarizes the biggest moves of security manufacturers in 2014 and 2015, concentrating on acquisitions, fund raising, significant stock...
Winner and Losers of the Milestone Deal on Jun 16, 2014
An industry changing event. Canon's acquisition of Milestone will impact the industry for years to come. But who fared the best and worst from...
Falling Down: The 2014 Mid-Year Guide on Jun 02, 2014
Falling down - the theme of the 2014 video surveillance industry. This is the toughest stretch for the industry overall, since at least the...
Comments (21): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Wireless

"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
The Interceptor Aims To Fix Vulnerability In Millions of Alarm Systems on Jan 08, 2018
Security executive Jeffery Zwirn claims a 'catastrophic' flaw exists in 'millions of alarm systems', and dealers could be liable if not fixed. The...
Multicasting Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 04, 2018
Network bandwidth can be a concern for some surveillance systems. While improvements in video codecs, such as smart codecs for H.264 and H.265,...
Amazon Acquires Blink on Dec 22, 2017
Amazon has made their first significant acquisition in the connected home space, buying wire-free camera manufacturer Blink. We examine Amazon's...
Directory of VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Dec 15, 2017
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2018 State...
Testing DMP XTLPlus / Virtual Keypad Vs Alarm.com & Honeywell on Dec 13, 2017
DMP has a strong presence in commercial intrusion alarms, but not in residential. However, the company's XTLPLus wireless combo panel and Virtual...
Nest Secure Alarm System Tested on Nov 16, 2017
Google's expansion continues, this time into home security with their Nest subsidiary's move into alarm systems. They paid more than a...
Selecting Access Control Readers Tutorial on Nov 09, 2017
Given the variety of types available, specifying access control readers can be a daunting process. However, focusing on a few key elements will...
Honeywell Indiegogo-Funded DIY Intrusion System Examined on Nov 02, 2017
Honeywell did $39 Billion dollars in revenue last year, but they are asking the public for $50,000 (.0001% of revenue) to fund their Indiegogo...

Most Recent Industry Reports

This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision Declares 'Never Click On Links In Emails' on Jan 09, 2018
Hikvision is stepping up its cybersecurity efforts with a clear recommendation - to never click on links in emails: It is a surprising change...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact